What’s more ‘Atlanta’ than Waffle House?

It’s a Wednesday morning, and you’ve decided to treat yourself. You’re at the Waffle House on Courtland, and in front of you is a hot cup of coffee and an All-Star Special. Is there anything else on the menu?

Your waitress is named Makaila, and this is her first job. She’s been here four years and she loves it.

“Lots of students come through,” she says, kindly taking a minute to indulge some of your questions. “They only ever want waffles and hash browns, though.”

She sings along to “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond on the jukebox and enthusiastically continues her work. It’s cold outside and it’s nice to be in a place that’s warm in more ways than merely literal. You are content. You are home. 

There are few things more “Atlanta” than Waffle House. Coke? Maybe. Hip-hop? Perhaps. Nothing can come close, however, to the homey sanctuary that Waffle House offers.

Although it was founded in Avondale Estates in 1955 (about two miles east of Decatur), Waffle House quickly became an Atlanta institution and is now headquartered in Norcross. With friendly staff, a familiar menu and a perfect American diner experience, there’s little to dislike.

For Georgia State students, Waffle House is a refuge in a city that so often defies its own reputation of Southern hospitality. Atlanta is the “city too busy to hate” and all too frequently “the city too busy to say, ‘Hello.’”  

Not so in Waffle House, where the staff knows customers’ names and wish them a happy birthday as they cross the threshold.

They are community centers, meeting places and study spots. They’re places to rest, unwind and recuperate. They’re spaces to work, earn a living and have fun doing it. For some patrons, they’re the closest thing to a home they’ll ever see.

In some ways, Waffle House is also a great equalizer. After all, people from completely different walks of life can appreciate a reasonably priced and delicious breakfast.

Around Atlanta, walk into any diner and you will find a diverse population that includes students dipping in and out between classes, day laborers eating a hearty meal, families enjoying a night out and people in suits who want a taste of home. 

You’ve just polished off your third cup of coffee and it’s time to go to class. But you don’t despair, because you know your Waffle Home will still be there tomorrow. And so will Makaila, who looks forward to seeing the students who “teach her a lot.” She invites you to come by and hear her story, or as she puts it, “get a piece of her mind.”

More people should consider taking her up on that generous offer because they might just figure out what can make a House a Home.